I’m Dr Sarb Johal – I’m the author of the bestselling Finding Calm: Managing Fear and Anxiety in an Uncertain World as well as other books about how to live well and sustain your mental wellbeing in an ever-changing world.

I’m insatiably curious about the human experience and what makes us think and behave the way we do. I know a lot about how to live well, communicate well and stay well, no matter what life might throw at us. I’m obsessed with appreciating the ordinary riches of the everyday and inspiring you and your colleagues to do the same.

As a keynote speaker, facilitator and panellist, I’m known for my ability to engage an audience, break down complex information into simple concepts and teach through storytelling. My signature talks typically range from 30 to 60 minutes, but I’m happy to create a bespoke experience for your audience.

Recent speaking engagements include:

  • MC & Keynote Speaker – National Secondary Education Leadership Summit, Christchurch, 13-15 July 2022
  • Keynote Speaker, The Winter of our Discontent Series, Great Barrier Island, Auckland, 19 June 2022
  • MC, Wellington Gold Awards, 26 May 2022
  • Keynote Speaker, Emergency Communications Conference 2022, Wellington, 18 October 2022
  • MC – TEDxWellington (Rescheduled)
  • Speaker, Nanogirl’s Virtual Summit 2020
  • Speaker, GovTech Accelerator Bootcamp, 2018
  • Keynote speaker – Science Communicators Association of New Zealand Conference, 2019
  • Keynote speaker – Speaking With Purpose 2017
  • Keynote speaker – Disaster and Emergency Management Conference, Gold Coast, Australia, 2016

Here are some of my favourite topics

  • Unpacking popular culture

    Why do some trends take hold and what does it say about our culture? An informative and entertaining look at the trends shaping modern society – and our lives.

  • The misinformation age

    How do we stay connected, when so much threatens to tear us apart? How do we respond to radicalisation, division and misinformation? How can we find common purpose so we can move forward together?

  • Life is right here, right now

    For centuries, great thinkers and spiritual leaders have taught the importance of being fully present in the moment. So why do we find it so hard to do? I’ll share the transformative power of the present moment and share tips and strategies to help you recognise and enjoy the riches of life, right here, right now.

  • Living well with uncertainty

    Life is full of challenges. I share practical tips, tools and strategies to get through any challenge or crisis with your mental wellbeing intact.

  • 30,000 days

    If we’re lucky, we get to experience life on Earth for 30,000 days. How can you make the most of yours?

  • Parenting

    How to support ourselves and our children through difficult times and periods of change.

  • The art of storytelling

    How to be a better listener, engage an audience, tell better stories and take your audience on a journey

If you’re looking to create a meaningful, engaging and thought provoking experience for your delegates, staff or members, I would love to hear from you.

Sarb’s contribution as MC of TEDxWellington has been a gift beyond measure. From his deep influence on our speaker coaching programme, to his masterful delivery and his skill in guiding audiences through an experience, Sarb makes the event so much richer. His contribution elevates the overall professionalism of the day and has created a positive legacy and future expectation of a high quality event.

Sarb’s well-received speaking workshops cultivate trust, build relationships and amplify the overall programme. I have learned so much from him about influencing the narrative understanding and the psychological aspects of controlling nerves for speakers. When I grow up, I want to be Sarb Johal!


I’m a frequent guest and commentator on radio, television and in print media, sharing an expert psychological perspective on breaking news, as well as practical tips to support mental health and wellbeing, parenting, getting through a crisis and communication. My work has appeared in The Guardian, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera, The Project on TV3 and The Spinoff, as well as countless online and print publications.

I regularly appear on Radio New Zealand National, both as a parenting commentator on Nine to Noon, and as a guest on The Panel to discuss the issues of the day, ranging from the Covid-19 response, to the psychological impact of traumatic events, and strategies for mental wellness.

I’m the co-host and joint creator of Eating Fried Chicken In the Shower, a Radio New Zealand podcast about mental health, headspace and happiness. Eating Fried Chicken was a finalist for both Best Entertainment Podcast at the 2020 NZ Radio Awards, and Best Episodic Podcast at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards.

I’ve also created my own podcasts, hosting two seasons of Who Cares, What’s the Point?, where I interviewed researchers publishing game-changing research about why humans behave the way we do, and exploring the practical implications. I also hosted one season of Thanks for Calling- a series of bite-sized episodes offering tips for greater mental wellbeing.

You can find it all here along with new episodes from Noise Reduction and 30,000 Days.

Subscribe to Noise Reduction

Finally, I run two YouTube Channels, one on mental health tips to help people through the pandemic, and another which is more about me, tech features and reviews, travel, and my 30,000 Days

To find out more about media appearances or to discuss your breaking news story please contact me

The Science Media Centre has worked with Sarb for many years, often calling on his expertise on breaking news topics, such as the Kaikōura earthquakes, the Christchurch mosque shootings and COVID-19. Sarb’s background as a clinical psychologist and his expertise in disaster psychology has proved invaluable on these topics.

The journalists we work with are often looking for someone who can add an additional perspective to their stories, and Sarb has proven himself to be a reliable ‘go-to’ expert on psychology-related topics. His willingness to lend his expertise on a range of topics makes him valuable as an expert commentator and someone we readily recommend to journalists.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarb has played a valuable role in our expert panel bringing insight and ideas to the wider group we have been working with. His compassion and empathy are particularly appreciated by the SMC team.

“A clinical psychologist, Dr Sarb Johal, who had done a lot of prior work on the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the UK, and then helping communities in New Zealand recover from earthquakes, has been really helpful to us. He says that the most important thing you can do is have empathy. Whatever you do, you must try to be empathetic and helpful in your design work and the language you put into it. All people really want to know is what’s the right thing to do, whether they’re doing it, and if it is working.”